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2013 Flight over Blue Mountain Watershed

on Wednesday, 10 September 2014 08:38

Flight over Blue Mountain Watershed June 20, 2013

by George Powell

I was privileged to have the opportunity to fly over our watershed last Friday. George Daniels was kind enough to take me on a two-hour flight in his Cessna Cardinal.

We flew out of the Collingwood Airport to the east flying over Tiny Marsh and then turning north to fly over Minesing Wetland. These are large protected wetlands outside our watershed and they provide valuable habitat to the area’s flora and fauna.

We then flew west flying over Duntroon more or less parallel to Simcoe County Road 91.

Duntroon Quarry 2013

Batteaux Creek flows through flatter topography, most of it agricultural land. The canopy is broken in the agricultural land, so stream temperature and nutrient runoff from fertilizers should be higher. The other watercourses in the Blue Mountain Watershed, Pretty River, Black Ash Creek, Silver Creek, Indian Brook and the Beaver River are reasonably well covered by forests and do not appear as impacted by agriculture as the Batteaux. The lower reaches of Black Ash Creek could be an issue as there is agriculture and channelization and forest coverage is broken where it flows through the Osler Brook Golf Course. Smaller streams like Townline Creek are evident they start above the Niagara Escarpment and flow down over the brow but seem to be reasonably well covered.
The ski resorts all appear to have erosion issues with Alpine and Georgian Peaks being the most notable.

We continued flying west up the Escarpment to the Beaver Valley watershed. There are several existing quarries and gravel and sand pits evident but they are small and well set back from the Escarpment brow.
If there are issues, they would impact local streams and we have indicated our concerns to The Town of The Blue Mountains on the existing land disposal site in the Thornbury area, which occupies a former gravel pit and lies adjacent to a working pit.

We returned along the Nottawasaga Bay shoreline, low water levels accentuate the boat channels with dredging taking place near Princeton Shores. How well this is being monitored is a concern, which we should voice to MNR, the Conservation Authorities and the Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).
The lone coastal wetland in our watershed, the Silver Creek Wetland stands out as an obvious treasure.


Post Mortem:
After the flight I examined the aerial photographs I had taken and reviewed some of the Joint Board hearing evidence on the new Walker Duntroon Quarry and I think it is important for us to realize the impact of aggregate removal in our area, particularly what remains after the quarry operation is closed.


Area:

The existing Walker quarry has an extraction area of 48.7 ha (120.3 acres), the proposed new Walker quarry of 68.3 ha (168.7 acres) and the approved MAQ quarry 58 ha (143.3 acres). A total area of 175 ha (432.4 acres) which makes three ponds any one of which is larger than Duncan Lake or Brewster Lake.

Depth:

Walker’s newly proposed quarry will lie to the north, immediately beside the existing quarry and will be larger in area and 10 meters deeper than the existing quarry. To the west, immediately across County Road 31 lies the recently approved MAQ quarry and it will be also larger and the same depth as the proposed Walker quarry. The Walker Osprey quarry lies to the west of the MAQ quarry and is approved but not proposed to be operated at this time. It is smaller and excavation below the water table is not permitted under the current license. The existing Walker quarry floor is at elevation 500 meters above sea level (masl) the other quarries are deeper having their floors at 490 masl. The existing ground water level is at 512 masl and mineral extraction below that elevation will require dewatering. Impact on the local wells due to drawdown was not considered to be an issue by Walker’s hydrologists but it very well could be and this will require careful monitoring during operation to prove this is the case. The annual reports of these quarries need to be reviewed.

I would think as time goes by Walker will ask to deepen the original quarry to a equal depth, that is elevation 490 masl, as the Amabel dolomite is there. As well, they will probably ask to take out Simcoe County Road 91, as there is valuable rock there as well. The approved Osprey quarry will also probably be resurrected. This means there will be a very large excavation and after perhaps 60 years it is filled with water to elevation 512 masl. The ground elevation around the existing quarry varies ranging from 546.5 masl at the southeast corner of the property sloping down to elevation 512.3 masl at the southeast corner where the outlet structure is proposed. The sides of the existing quarry will be vertical along the north side based on the amendment to the existing license to allow 600,000 cubic metres of aggregate to now be removed. County Road 31, I believe, will end up being removed and this would leave one large excavation with an area of over 117ha (289 acres).

The existing quarry site plan, note 9 states that “When final rehabilitation of easterly side slope is complete, Parcel 1 & 2 will be conveyed to the Bruce Trail Conservancy”. The existing trail is shown running along the east side of the property and a proposed new trail is shown running along the south side of the quarry to the west side and down to the lake outlet structure, a wooden bridge is shown over the structure and runs along the edge of the pond north to intersect with the existing trail which runs on the north side of the quarry parallel to former County Road 91 now owned by Walker. The west side of the quarry is to be the recreational area and has a plateau and beach area with vegetation to promote fish habitat. Along the north and south property limit a safety fence is shown depth to the water surface is over 16 metres and to the quarry floor is another 12 metres.

I think what eventually needs to be determined is who owns the final sites and what best use could be made of it. It will be essentially groundwater fed at the headwaters of the watershed. Without nutrients it will be a relatively sterile, cold, artificial lake. It could be stocked but I am not sure how successful that would be as the lakes will be nutrient deficient.

As always a difficult decision to take and generic levitra online resolve some of their problems. I need to make this decision and do not shout about it.

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